Guidelines for Reducing the Risk of Lymphedema for Those Who Have Had Breast Cancer Treatment​

Avoid Infection (Cellulitis)

Exercise caution when having blood drawn or shots given on the affected arm(s). A recent study has not found a connection between an increase in swelling and needle-stick use. However, there is an increased risk of cellulitis with the use of needle-sticks[1]. It is best to speak with your doctor, nurse or lymphedema therapist about the risk of needle-stick use. Keep the skin clean and protect it from cuts and scratches. Always carry band-aids!

Avoid Burns

Protect your arm(s) from sunburn. Use an oven mitt when cooking and avoid splash burns from steaming foods. Avoid hot tubs and saunas.

Avoid Tourniquets

Blood pressure cuffs, carrying a shoulder bag or purse on the affected arm or wearing tight jewelry can create a tourniquet which can impede lymphatic flow and exacerbate swelling.

Avoid Muscle Strain

Exercise has a positive effect on lymphedema and doing so with a compression sleeve is encouraged. Be sure to check with your doctor, nurse or lymphedema therapist to find the level of exercise that is right for you. Try not to over do it to avoid muscle strain!

Keep a Healthy Diet

There is a strong connection between lymphedema and obesity. Be sure to keep a healthy diet to help manage your swelling or to reduce lymphedema risk. Avoid excessive sodium intake.

Keep Skin Protected

Keep your skin moist with a pH balanced moisturizer. Use gloves when cleaning and gardening to reduce exposure to harsh chemicals and potentially sharp objects that can puncture the skin and lead to infection.